It is only fair I muse on great libations for grilling on this (lovely here in Boston) Memorial Day. Plus, I love Margaritas and I love Malbec. Malbec was the first varietal I really discovered outside of the most well-known US reds (cab, merlot, pinot noir). Heck! It was my first real exposure to wine outside of the US and all I had done was buy a bottle from Argentina. It was love at first sip! I haven't really stopped trying them since. Margaritas and Malbec... Of course it doesn't hurt that working at the shop we're always tasting new Malbecs. Many of them are solid wines and still relatively inexpensive; we can afford to "mix it up" for our customers. Last week one of my favorite importers/distributors brought another one by the shop for us to taste. I put my nose in the glass and... MARGARITAS!

Yep, I smelled margarita in my wine glass. Yet there was no tequila or lime juice in sight. I took a look at the wine again and went in for a sip. It was a fairly typical Malbec on the mid-palate. Juicy, red berry fruit, smooth (from the oak, no doubt) with hints of spice. There was definitely some of that margarita 'essence' on the finish. Still, not too shabby. It took me a second to put the pieces together... My Margarita association was with the saline (salt) scents and flavors imparted in the wine. That was a new one for me and my beloved Malbec. My wine brain told me it had to be the soil... or was it?

Later I researched my suspicion. The Mendoza/Lujan de Cuyo region in particular is known for its sandy soil - and the saline imparted from aquifers near the surface. Very cool. (It's always nice to know I'm not going crazy and that by paying attention to my senses while tasting wine, I'm getting more out of the experience and learning more to boot!)

It was a good reminder too. I may be an academic at heart, but for wine the classroom is your glass. You don't always need to "study" all of the elements so much as let your nose and tongue do the walking. The more you do, the more you learn.

When's the last time your nose led you somewhere new?